It used to be that a company had made it when its CEO rang the opening bell at the stock market to celebrate a big-money IPO. But promising startups today get their validation from unicorn status, obtaining billion-dollar valuations and millions in capital from private sources instead of the public markets.

Institutional players are now participating in funding rounds that were once limited to VCs—mutual fund giant T. Rowe Price has backed Airbnb, Flipkart and WeWork, for example. With all this money sloshing around the system, founders would rather not explain themselves to retail investors or be scrutinized by activist ones, especially since many of their buzzy companies are still losing money.

As Mattermark CEO Danielle Morrill somewhat indelicately put it in a recent interview with the New York Times: “If you can get $200 million from private sources, then yeah, I don’t want my company under the scrutiny of the unwashed masses who don’t understand my business.”


Do you agree with these unicorns’ funding strategy? Is an IPO still part of the entrepreneurial dream? Let us know by commenting below.

Loading comments, please wait.